Jordan Tannahill describes an encounter with ethics that lead to far more than he may have anticipated.

Jordan Tannahill is a playwright, theatre director and filmmaker. The Globe and Mail recently called Jordan “…the poster child of a new generation of (theatre? film? dance?) artists for whom “interdisciplinary” is not a buzzword, but a way of life”. In collaboration with William Ellis, Jordan runs the alternative art space Videofag, out of a defunct barbershop in Toronto’s Kensington Market. His plays have been presented across Canada, and his films have been exhibited at venues such as the Toronto International Film Festival, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the British Film Institute. Jordan received the 2014 Governor Generals Award for Drama for his book Age of Minority: Three Solo Plays, the 2014 John Hirsch Prize for directing, and Dora Awards for his plays rihannaboi95 in 2013 and Concord Floral in 2015. He has upcoming productions at the National Arts Centre of Canada and Canadian Stage. Earlier this year, his production of Sheila Heti’s All Our Happy Days Are Stupid, which he directed with frequent collaborator Erin Brubacher, enjoyed sold out runs at Harbourfront Centre’s World Stage and The Kitchen in New York City. His book Theatre of the Unimpressed: In Search of Vital Drama was published by Coach House Press in April 2015 and was called “…"essential reading for anybody interested in the state of contemporary theatre and performance" by The Globe and Mail. Jordan is PuSh Festival’s curator-in-residence for Club PuSh (2016 & 2017).

About the speaker

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Jordan Tannahill is a playwright, theatre director and filmmaker. The Globe and Mail recently called Jordan “…the poster child of a new generation of (theatre? film? dance?) artists for whom "interdisciplinary” is not a buzzword, but a way of life". In collaboration with William Ellis, Jordan runs the alternative art space Videofag, out of a defunct barbershop in Toronto’s Kensington Market. His plays have been presented across Canada, and his films have been exhibited at venues such as the Toronto International Film Festival, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the British Film Institute. Jordan received the 2014 Governor Generals Award for Drama for his book Age of Minority: Three Solo Plays, the 2014 John Hirsch Prize for directing, and Dora Awards for his plays rihannaboi95 in 2013 and Concord Floral in 2015. He has upcoming productions at the National Arts Centre of Canada and Canadian Stage. Earlier this year, his production of Sheila Heti’s All Our Happy Days Are Stupid, which he directed with frequent collaborator Erin Brubacher, enjoyed sold out runs at Harbourfront Centre’s World Stage and The Kitchen in New York City. His book Theatre of the Unimpressed: In Search of Vital Drama was published by Coach House Press in April 2015 and was called “…"essential reading for anybody interested in the state of contemporary theatre and performance" by The Globe and Mail. Jordan is PuSh Festival’s curator-in-residence for Club PuSh (2016 & 2017).

Where do you find your best creative inspiration? From my friends; from the artwork they make, the stories they tell me, and the lives they lead.

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person? You can always push it further.

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings? I would love to hear Canadian poet Anne Carson speak. I am a huge fan boy of hers, and I’ve heard she’s incredible live. Her verse novel Autobiography of Red is my favourite book.

What’s your one guilty creative indulgence? I watch a lot of YouTube. Most of the time it’s a wormhole of distraction but often I find it spurs exciting and unexpected associations when I’m writing.

What are you reading these days? I’m currently reading Svetlana Alexievich’s Voices from Chernobyl; a harrowing oral history of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. It’s actually very applicable to my talk “The Ethics of Real Stories”. Alexievitch interviewed hundreds of individuals affected by the disaster, and crafted dozens of verbatim monologues from the transcripts.

How does your life and career compare to what you envisioned for your future when you were a sixth grader? I’m doing pretty much exactly what I dreamed I would be doing when I was in grade six: some kind of combination of being a writer, theatre maker and filmmaker. It was never particularly clear to me then which one I would prioritize, and then at some point I realized I could just do all three. I feel quite fortunate to have known from a young age that a job in the arts is what I wanted, and to have had a family that supported that. I suppose the biggest difference is that I didn’t really know I was gay in grade 6, nor that I would have such a smoking hot boyfriend.

How would you describe what you do in a single sentence to a stranger? I tell stories onstage, in books, and onscreen.

What keeps you awake at night? Impetuous emails I’ve sent.

Where was the last place you travelled? I’m currently writing these answers in the Ottawa airport, on my way to Istanbul with my boyfriend. Istanbul has always been a city that has fascinated me. It sits at the intersection of so many cultures, histories, and ideologies. I will be meeting a theatre director there who is translating my play Concord Floral into Turkish, and will be mounting a production of it there in 2017. I’m very curious to see how this play — which is so much about the North American suburban experience of adolescence — translates to contemporary Istanbul.

What music are you listening to these days? The three albums on most constant rotation at the moment are Joanna Newsom’s Divers, Jenny Hval’s Apocalypse Girl, and Julia Holter’s Have You in My Wilderness.

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